Guide to British Music of the 1960s

March 2017

Book Review

1966 by Jon Savage

This book is subtitled "the year the decade exploded" and that sums it up. 1966 was not just the middle of the decade but it was the point where there were major changes, not just in music but also in areas such as subculture. Jon Savage takes a detailed look back at this defining year with its underlying musical soundtrack but the political and social landscape was highly volatile, affecting and being affected by the music. The companion CD is a great accompaniment to the book covering a wide range of tracks released in the UK and US during the year and not just the obvious ones. l

There was far more to 1966 than winning the World Cup and Revolver. Vietnam was becoming a big issue and was met with a mix of condemnation and patriotic fervour, the latter well illustrated by the success of the song The Ballad of the Green Berets. Music reflected politics and culture while political and cultural changes were reflected in the music like never before. Of course the Beatles were at the forefront of the musical revolution. They courted controversy during the year with the misunderstanding about John Lennon's comments and problems in the Far East. This helped them make the decision to cease touring. They had already made Revolver but now pop music became rock music, LPs were more important than 45s and the studio was more important than the concert stage. Music was not all about the Beatles though. The Rolling Stones were experiencing worldwide success but then came the drug bust at Redlands. Bob Dylan released the first double album. The Who, the Kinks and the Small Faces were producing incredible singles and LPs. In the US, Stax and Motown were bringing "black" music to a wider audience while the California sound was developing in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The companion CD works very well alongside the book. While legal restrictions will naturally prevent such a collection from including everything that is vital, it does contain many of the lesser-known but none the less important tracks that are covered in the book.

To be completed

Published 19 November 2015

Faber & Faber

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